A press conference was held yesterday for the 2nd Annual Don’t Blink Home Run Derby 2019 at REV TV/Cable Bahamas’ head office. Shown (l-r) are: Larry Alcime, Pittsburgh Pirates, Dominique Collie, Arizona Diamondbacks, Lucius Fox, Tampa Bay Rays, Melissa Colebrook, REV marketing manager, Gravette Brown, Aliv chief commercial officer, Jasrado Chisholm Jr, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Keithron Moss, Texas Rangers.
Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff
By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
For the second consecutive year, the country’s top pro baseball prospects will host another showcase of local and international talent, vying for the title of the Bahamian Home Run Derby King.
The Don’t Blink Home Run Derby, powered by REV, is all set for noon on January 5, 2019 at the Montagu foreshore, featuring over 30 participants in the unique showcase. The project is the brainchild of Todd Isaacs Jr and Lucius Fox Jr of the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays organisations respectively.
With a greater number of participants, the roster for this year’s event will be divided into teams headlined by Fox and Isaacs.
“We made some adjustments to this year’s event to bring more excitement because every year we want to make it bigger and better,” Fox said. “Speaking from my experience, once I got back to training camp, everyone was asking about it and wanting to come down to the next one so it was starting to get hectic with the number of prospects that have contacted us and we just wanted to involve everyone. This year we made it a team format to have as many international prospects and at the same time showcase our Bahamian talent.”
Following the team format, the top four individual hitters from each team will advance to see who will be crowned the Bahamian home run king.
Twenty active Bahamian professional players will participate in the event, up from 16 local participants last year. In 2012, there were just two active Bahamians in the minor league system, indicative of baseball’s exponential growth in the country.
Defending champion Bo Bichette will be back and headlines the list of visiting players. Miami Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson is also expected as the lone major leaguer in the field.
The event will also include autograph and picture sessions to give the general public an opportunity to interact with the players.
“To see it happen and how much people enjoyed it made us happy. We didn’t win but the joy on people’s face made us happy and the lives of how many little kids we touched was great. The amount of Americans that saw this event that wanted to come down was surprising,” Fox said.
“It’s only a one-day event and we want to be able to showcase as much of our Bahamian talent as possible, so in the years moving forward we may have to make it a more than one day event just to accommodate the people that want to come. The goal is to continue to grow bigger and better every year so you will hear more ideas from the team.”
A unique venue presents a unique approach as players will hit home runs into Montagu Bay. Home run barriers will be set by buoys in the water that have been measured with the proper major league approved dimensions.
“We were very happy with the turnout we had last year being the first of many,” Fox said.
“Our whole goal was just to inspire as many kids as possible. We decided to bring it back to help those kids and also to give the Bahamian people something to enjoy.”
In addition to the Home Run Derby, the participating players are scheduled to host a clinic at Atlantis on January 4 for aspiring student athletes. Featuring players aged seven and older, from 9am-1pm.
“We encourage everyone to come out and workout with the pros, interact with them and learn as much as you can. It will certainly be a fun-filled experience,” Fox said, “We just wanted to do something for the Bahamian people. The kids are the future, we know that they’re the future, we take it upon ourselves to help them every chance we get. So bring your kids out, allow them to work with us, the many pros from the Bahamas and the visiting international pros as well.”
Jazz Chisholm will be one of the favourites in the event, following his season of milestones, highlighted by his 30 home runs.
“I hit 30 home runs for a reason, that’s all I can say,” when asked if he should be the first selection in the draft, “ But the entire experience was great. Having our friends come from the US to participate was amazing. Just having the kids come up and tell us how they want to chaise their baseball dreams has been amazing as well. Even though its our job we are still having fun so for a lot of kids and parents to voice that, that was the biggest thing for me, changing minds.
Many of the players look at the showcase and the ensuing camp as an opportunity to serve as inspirations.
Larry Alcime said:”We expect to perform very well, we’re working hard and we want to come out and have fun. I loved seeing the kids chase the ball downs even as they went into the water, so seeing everyone smile and come out and give so much support for a first time event.”
DJ Collie added: “The kids were so excited, to see the smiles on their faces and eve months later for them to continue to ask about it, just to see them inspired is like a dream come true.”
Keithron Moss participated last year, just weeks after signing with the Texas Rangers organisation.
“For me it was about having fun, going out there and showcasing our talent,” he said, “As the youngest player I just was trying to learn as much as I can.”
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Cancer Society of the Bahamas, the Sister Sister Breast Cancer Support Group and the development of youth baseball in the Bahamas.
“The lineup has grown a lot. It speaks volumes to where our young men are developing in this sport of baseball,” event promoter Todd Isaacs Sr said, “The nonprofit organisations will be set up on there to give out information or if you want to volunteer and find a way to become involved. We have also invited both JBLN and Freedom Farm to set up tents and give information to any interested persons.t this level its not about comp anymore, our boys are representing us, the Bahamian people. This event gives you a chance to see the level they are at. Our boys are competing and our ranked very high in baseball so they deserve our support. We didn’t know what to expect last year and the vibe was just great. We want to make it bigger and inspire the young kids and that’s really what this is about. It’s very good that our kids can come out and talk and touch these guys and learn how they did this. We can actually see the doors being opened in Major League Baseball”
The title sponsor, REV will broadcast the event live and will simulcast live on it’s Facebook page.
“REV is truly pleased to partner with Todd, Lucius and their team for the second annual Don’t Blink Home Run Derby. REV has a longstanding relationship with youth baseball by virtue of our broadcast coverage over the years. We celebrate their success and all of our Bahamian athletes who are pursuing their dreams and doing things so well and representing the Bahamas,” said Melissa Colebrooke, Marketing Manager at Rev, “Todd and Lucis’ vision for giving back to the Bahamian community and showcasing the success of young in our community is one the REV family continues to support wholeheartedly. REV is therefore happy to announce that we will remain the title sponsor. We are looking forward to see our home grown athletes and celebrating with them and also with the other guys who have heard of the success of this event and are coming down as well.”
While the goal is to win the event, Fox said the higher purpose is to give Bahamain players the exposure that enables them to impact lives.
“We never have the opportunity to play in front of our people. Baseball players never get to showcase their talent on the island, but last year we got to showcase how much our hard work has paid off,” Fox said, “I remember telling kids I never dreamt of seeing the places I’ve seen or meeting the people I’ve met and it’s all been because of baseball. We just want to give every young kid coming up behind us every opportunity and I think the Bahamian people are opening up their eyes to baseball even more.”